Quick, fresh and delicious street food has a particular appeal to every traveler. Tasting street food like a local is an important way for us to experience different cultures. Cambodia’s street food is not as famous and varied as its neighbour Vietnam, but if you experience Cambodian street food firsthand, you’re likely to find its unique charm. Cambodia’s street food provides a unique perspective that allows us to gain an in-depth understanding of Cambodia’s food culture.
Siem Reap is Cambodia’s most important tourist city, with a long history and culture, beautiful natural scenery and a relatively light consumer burden. The city’s tourism industry has grown rapidly in recent years and has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. So-called western food chains such as Pizza Company and KFC can be easily found here, but the city’s street food seems to be more popular with tourists from all over the world. In Pub Street, Siem Reap Night Market and near the famous Angkor Wat, you can easily find plenty of stalls selling a variety of street foods. These places are always filled with tourists. You don’t have to worry too much about the food safety of these roadside stalls, most of the food is made in front of the customers. Besides, if you want to try some authentic local street food more easily, it’s a good idea to find a good guide.
Here are five unique and popular Cambodian street foods that you should try.
Kralan, rice in bamboo, is probably Cambodia’s most famous traditional snack. This snack is a kind of sticky rice cooked in bamboo, and you need to split the bamboo to get the rice. The rice used for this preparation is a special kind of fragrant rice, mainly from the city of Battambang in the west of the country. The rice is cooked with a mixture of coconut milk, grated coconut flesh, and other ingredients such as black beans. Rice and ingredients are stuffed into bamboo and roasted on fire, and the smoky flavor makes this slightly savoury snack taste more unique.
According to locals, ancient Khmer soldiers would take the Kralan on patrols, and nowadays you can easily find this popular street food on the streets of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. At the entrance to the Angkor Wat, there are also many stalls selling the Kralan, and you can buy this typical local treat for less than $1.
Coconut Ice Cream
Coconuts are probably the most common fruit in hot and humid Cambodia, and you can easily find stalls selling fresh coconuts on the streets of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Coconut is also a raw material for many traditional Cambodian dishes and street food, and coconut ice cream is a good example. The shell of a fresh coconut is shaved as a bowl, with 3 scoops of ice cream added to it, and then sprinkled with pieces of fresh coconut flesh, one of the most popular desserts in Cambodia is finished. A base coconut ice cream costs $1.25, and if you need more diverse flavors, there will be some difference in the price.
If you have free time to walk the streets of Siem Reap, perhaps this delicious and affordable coconut ice cream will help you cool down in the hot summer heat.
Bananas are a common ingredient in Cambodian cuisine, which seems hard to spot in other parts of the world. There are many kinds of bananas in Cambodia, of different sizes, from yellow to green and even red. On the streets of Siem Reap, you’ll always find stalls selling bananas, which are incredibly cheap. Grilling a banana sounds a bit surprising, and you might think it won’t taste good, but the opposite is true. Grilled bananas are warm, the outside is a little crunchy, and the inside is softer and a little gooey because of the heat, which tastes very different from unprocessed ones. If you’ve only eaten bananas directly, you’re missing out on the great potential of this delicious fruit, in Cambodia, try five grilled bananas for just $0.50.
Fruit shake is basically a combination of fresh fruit, ice and condensed milk. This cool drink looks like fruit smoothie, but it’s different from smoothie. Fruit shake stalls can be found everywhere on the streets of Siem Reap, offering very fresh and inexpensive fruit shakes, usually priced at $1-2. As the main ingredient, the fruits can be mango, apple, coconut and pear, etc., but mango shake is the most popular option.
It’s hard to resist a freshly blended fruit shake. They’re sweet, cool, and packed with nutritional ingredients. During your trip to Cambodia, fruit shakes are well worth a try, which will add to the enjoyment of your trip and keep you healthy.
Lort Cha, also known as Cambodian fried rice noodles, is basically a combo of rice noodles and fried eggs. “Lort” means rice noodles, and “Cha” is stir fry. The noodles used for this dish are special, shorter, thicker and wider than regular ones. Made of short rice noodles, various vegetables such as bean sprouts, onions, chives, this street food then is mixed with grilled beef and finally topped with an egg.
By the Siem Reap River, you can easily find lots of Lort Cha stalls. This is a classic street food option. Add garlic, chili and soy sauce before eating, making it the perfect dinner during your stay in Cambodia.